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SAN DIEGO COUNTY DIGEST

North County : San Marcos Veto Bars Upgrading of Encina Sewage

June 25, 1987

San Marcos water officials dashed an effort to upgrade treatment at the Encina sewage plant in Carlsbad, vetoing a proposal Wednesday to provide secondary treatment at the facility.

Currently, the plant provides advanced-primary treatment, which blends secondary-treated sewage with effluent that has been given primary treatment, a less intensive process that removes fewer solids from waste water.

Although five of the six agencies that operate the plant agreed Wednesday to upgrade to secondary treatment, San Marcos County Water District officials cast the lone vote against the change. Since San Marcos, like the other agencies, enjoys veto power on all decisions affecting the plant, that single vote meant the facility will not be upgraded this year.

San Marcos officials say it has not been demonstrated that sewage given advanced-primary treatment threatens the ocean. Many coastal residents, however, have expressed concern that advanced primary treatment fails to adequately strip viruses and germs from waste water dumped into the sea.

The other agencies that make up the Encina operating board supported full secondary treatment, claiming that ratepayers have said they were willing to shell out extra money for the upgrading, which would have added about $283,000 to the plant's $5.8 million annual operating budget.

Those agencies, however, based their support for secondary treatment on an important stipulation. Before the upgrading took place, they said, the plant would need to find a solution on where to dump the increased amount of sludge produced by the higher level of treatment.

Since no easy solution to the sludge disposal problem is in sight, plant officials had speculated that an upgrade to full secondary treatment might have been delayed for many months even if the entire board had favored it.

Aside from San Marcos, the Encina governing board is composed of the cities of Vista and Carlsbad, the Leucadia County Water District, Buena County Sanitation District and Encinitas Sanitary District.

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